Question posted to the Financial Times and answered by Clarion...
Q: Outside my job in a large organisation, I have become increasingly involved with what some might describe as a controversial political organisation. Yesterday, my line manager informally told me that my views have upset someone in the business and that further campaign activities could cost me a promotion and future career. Is that legal?
A: Your employer is likely to have an equality policy in place which should establish that promotion and career development is based on merit and performance – not to be influenced by things like age, disability, race or religion.
Religion is a characteristic that is protected by law. The protection extends to affiliation with a particular religion, and religious or philosophical beliefs. Whilst people with beliefs such as Socialism or Marxism might enjoy some legal protection, the same cannot be said for employees with political beliefs or party affiliations.
A recent case in the European Court of Human Rights might mean that things could change slightly in the future. However, it is not yet clear whether any changes will be implemented. Even if they are, they would not necessarily mean that employers exercising caution in respect of their employees’ political affiliation or beliefs would be automatically unfair under discrimination and employment law. Employees would just have greater scope for challenging their employers’ approach.
For the time being, you would be wise to ensure that your campaigning activities remain outside the workplace and that any views you express through, for example, social media are clearly highlighted as being your own and in no way associated with your employer. If you take these precautions, your employer is less likely to have concerns about out of work issues and will be more likely to focus on your performance during any career progression assessment.
In addition, as you no doubt already do, striving to be on top form at work and consistently showcasing your skills and ambition to your employer will help ensure that you get the recognition that you deserve.
Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.